New Scientology Documentary Sparks Negative Reaction from Scientologists
According to Michael Cieply’s story “Documentary Draws Ire From the Church of Scientology, The New York Times, 15 January, 2015,
(http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/business/media/documentary-draws-ire-from-the-church-of-scientology.html?_r=0), a new documentary is scheduled to air in March on HBO discussing controversies surrounding the Church of Scientology. Based off of the book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright, the film focuses primarily on interviews with ex-members of the church who claim to have experienced physical and emotional abuse while practicing Scientology. The Documentary will also discuss the church’s origins, including its creator L. Ron Hubbard, along with accusations about the churches diminishing membership numbers.
While Scientology officials and members have not yet seen the movie, they refute all negative allegations against the church. The Church of Scientology responded to the documentary by taking out ads in The New York Times, accusing the film of producing unsuitable and inaccurate facts about the church.
As discussed in James R. Lewis’ article “Scientology: up stat, down stat”, the Church of Scientology is one of the most debated New Religious Movements of our era (Lewis). Exercising practices such as “auditing”, “training”, e-meter readings and “disconnection letters” (a practice also mentioned in the documentary), the Church of Scientology has bore much scrutiny. One issue the Church constantly faces is accusations made from ex-members. Alleged church policies of “disconnection”, which requires current members not to fraternize with slanderous ex-members, tend to breed hostility and vengeance within ex-members (Lewis). This in turn has lead to numerous “tell all” articles, books and documentaries by former participants about the Church of Scientology.
The issue with a documentary based primarily on ex-members testimony is it portrays an extremely biased point of view about the church. It turns into a game of “he said, she said”, with accusations made by ex-members followed by complete denial from the church. While documentaries of this nature can be entertaining and riveting, there is the possibility of a lack of factual integrity, as stated by the Church of Scientology. However, the churches immediate rejection of any and all negative accusations lands us no closer to the truth. In the end, individuals have to decipher for themselves what they truly believe to be fact or fiction.
Lewis, J. R. (2012). Scientology: Up stat, down stat. In The Cambridge companion to new
religious movements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Another Link regarding the New York Times Ad taken out by Scientologists: